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Physiotherapy causing other problems ??

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Recovering from Surgery

I have been doing physiotherapy for a quite a few weeks now, post PLIF surgery on my L4/L5.
My back is doing very well, and I am getting my mobility back and am pleased with my progress.

BUT, I have started having lots of trouble with my knees. I have had slight problems with them for a few years; very noisy and occasional pain and weakness.
The other week, I very nearly fell downstairs as I started to go down because my knee gave way. I managed to stop myself falling, but it gave me a scare.
I called my physio, who told me to rest my knee and start to use a support on that knee when I recommenced exercising.
Now the other knee is getting painful.
My PT is on holiday at the moment.

Also, some of the exercises are causing my neck to be painful while exercising and last night, I had a lot of trouble sleeping because my arms were aching so much.

I feel like a physical wreck! :S

Do others have this problem? If so, how did you manage things?



  • Oh,ouch! Can you call your doc about this?
    Also, possibly your insurance company... the reason I say that is I've had similar problems with PT in the past... back PT hurt my knees, knee PT hurt my back and my insurance company only "one body part" at a time, bleh... kind of stupid when you think about it.

    Hopefully when your PT gets back he can discuss with you ways of protecting your knees while doing your back exercises. Your doc might want to take a look at the knees, or have an ortho check them out... just to make sure nothing serious is going on in there.
    good luck and I hope you feel better soon!

  • I am self funding for the Physio because my insurance doesn't cover outpatient physio.
    I am in the UK.

    Did you manage to find a way to exercise without hurting your knees?

    I'll be seeing my PT next week, so I can talk to him then. I was wondering how common it is, and if there is a way round it.

    I think I am past my sell by date! :S
  • Hehe, you and me both!

    You really can't go by me, my Pt ended as the PT said there was nothing else they could do for me, backwise and I'd used up all my PT time anyway.

    I can't speak for everyone,but in my family at least, the back and knees go out together...nothing short of replacement will do the knees..though I did get some nice relief from synvisc shots. if you've got arthritis in the knees, that might be worth talking to the doc about, as well.

  • My knee gave out on me two days ago the same leg where I had the injections and have sciatica. It was just weak. Are your knees swollen at all? I would let your Surgeon's PA know since you just had surgery. And you Primary Dr. also. My husband had arthroscopic surgery on his knee but his knee was painful not weak and he does well now with very loose stationary cycling for an hour every day but this was after his surgery and Ortho Specialist for knees told him walking is the only exercise for him so he had to give up jogging. He never went for PT before surgery.

    The thing with leg support puts pressure on the opposite knee trying to compensate. Ice before and after exercise and at bedtime well my husband did that now it's two years and he's doing well building up his quads and leg muscles around the knee and your PT will help with that.

    Sorry to hear bout your neck issues also I had x-rays so far and shows C6-C7 nerve impingement but I don't want to deal with my neck issues right now except for PT and ultrasound or the Orthosurgeon will probably do surgery on my neck when I feel my issues are lumbar right now. All my answers are based on my and hubby's experiences but icing could help the knee pain until you see your Doctor. Thanks for the PM. My best. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have a different view point that you might want to talk to your PT and doctor about. You had knee problems in the past so you know you aren't starting with a perfect body part. But for the past months (if not longer) you have been taking it easy in general, right? So wouldn't it make sense that your knees are out of shape also? The other possibility is that as you work your back you may be putting more strain on your knee as you try to protect your back.

    Just some ideas from what I know I have had happen. Hope this helps. I'm betting that your PT knows exactly what is going on.

  • My knees aren't swollen, and only have pain sometimes. They have been noisy for years, and I have had them give way going downstairs before, a year or so ago. I think that the exercises and squatting to protect my back have flared them up.

    I see my physio next week, when he is back from his holiday.

    6 months ago, my chiro gave me exercises to strengthen my knees that are less stressful than the knee strengthening exercises that my PT has given me. Perhaps I'll go back to doing those.

    As for my neck, my surgeon and 3 other doctors have said that my symptoms indicate that I have problems there. I feel that I am getting much more pain in my neck and arms now. More than before my surgery. Hard to tell if it is just because I am noticing my neck because my lumbar pain is so much better, or has it really got worse.

    All these pains are such a pain!!! ~X(

    I understand you not wanting to deal with your neck now. That is how I feel. I probably should contact my GP. I am thinking about doing that! :?
    Thanks for the suggestion of icing. :-)

  • During the last 20 months, apart from a short time immediately after my surgery, I have been walking 2 miles a day and doing various exercises.

    I think that the physio exercises that I am doing are stressing my knees. Some of them cause my knees to be very noisy and also cause pain in them. I have also been squatting to protect my back, but now am bending to protect my knees!!! I have had the all clear from the surgeon to bend and the PT gets me to bend in several of the exercises.

    Thanks for answering my post. It is encourageing to have your ideas, and nice to know that people have shared my problems! :-)

    I'll talk to my physio next week, when he is back from his holiday and I have an appointment with him. He did say that we may need to change my exercises to some that are less stressful on my knees.
  • When you do the squats in PT, has the therapist ever checked to make certain you are using good form? Every time I have done PT that involved doing squats, whether it be wall squats or freestanding squats, the therapist constantly checked to make certain I was using good form. I was told that certain incorrect tendencies while doing squats, can stress the knees and cause pain there.

  • Squats and lunges!! Two things I haven't been able to do since I was about 11-the inadvertent ones sliding on ice don't count :P

    I'm sure your PT is watching your form while you do those... but you might want to consider doing them with the PT there while you are in front of a mirror (or facing mirrors)... it really helps to see where things should be and it's so easy to be out of alignment with these and not necessarily catch it at first.

    I hope you're able to get some real relief with your PT. I think it's great that you're able to do them at all! :)

  • Next week, I'll get my physio to watch me as I do those exerciss.
    When he gave of of them to me, he did say I needed to be able to see my big toe, and that would ensure that my foot arch was maintained and that my knee would be in the correct position. However, my rather big bust, gets in the way! :O I do try to though.

    Perhaps this is what is causing my flare up.

    Thanks all for your help, I have something to talk with him about next week. :-)
  • =)) seperated at birth maybe 8} Same problem here even if I could do them... they never seemed to find the fact that I could touch the back of my head with my toes impressive tho :P (that of course was before all the back issues came to a real ouchie point!@)

    And totally off subject, but worse that PT examples are eye exams... are they trying to get that table behind me through my chest??? I can put my chin in the little chin stirrup OR I can pull the table to my chest... but doing both are physically impossible even for the ligamentous lax amongst us :O I could have been a circus performer!)
  • Hey my friend! It is so hard to maintain good form with squats and lunges, for me, especially lunges. I had to stop doing them because of the swelling and knee pain. :(

    Using the exercise ball you can do amazing core strengthening without ever having to lunge!

    It maybe time to find an alternative exercise!

    I miss chatting with you! :)
  • Can't add much more to the good suggestions you've already received.

    When I was doing physio, I had to modify most of the exercises that he gave me, even the exercise ball, but now my core is much stronger. The exercise ball is really good. My sister teaches Pilates and she modifies the exercises for people with back, neck and knee issues. She gives them mostly what is called "closed chain" exercises.

    Another suggestion is Tai Chi and Chi Kung. I started learning it from 7 months out and what a difference it's made to my back. Tai Chi exercises take the line of least resistance, there's no stress on the body and they're so relaxing. I do them twice a day - different routines for morning and evening. It's also very good for strengthening the core. I bought my DVDs from the UK, and if you're interested, PM me and I'll let you know which ones I've found easy to follow.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • that you've got so far Jelly.

    My husband has knee & shoulder issues and finally saw the GP while I was in Florida. The GP gave him a script for some Piroxicam Gel 0.5%. He says he thinks it does help.

    Might try some of that and see if it helps.

    P x
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